Cognitive approaches to language 2020

Inna Tsymbala

Kamianets-Podilskyi IvanOhiienko National University

Scientific Supervisor: PhD, Kryshtaliuk A. A.


The article offers a cognitive-discursive study of repetition using image-schemes.

Key words: cognitive-discursive study, repetition, image-schema.

The essence of the cognitive approach to language lies in the study of it as a common cognitive mechanism, a cognitive tool ─ a system of signs, exploring models of consciousness associated with the processes of cognition, with the acquisition, production, storage, use, transference of knowledge and information processing, argumentation. Because language is an integral part of cognition, it represents the interaction of psychological, communicative, functional and cultural factors [2].

One of the basic terms of cognitive linguistics is the “image-schema” (image schema ─ the mental schematic structure around which the human experience is organized), which was first used in the works of M. Johnson [5]. We can explain the concepts we use every day as well as various grammatical phenomena and stylistic figures through image-schemes.

One of the main stylistic figures of the language is repetition, which focuses the reader’s attention on a keyword or a key phrase of the text, provides repetition of sounds, words and expressions in a certain sequence. For more complete new understanding of the essence of this phenomenon, it must be considered from a cognitive perspective, using image-schemes.

According to M. Johnson [5], who distinguishes the image-schema ITERATION, we understand that it is an elementary mental dynamic structure of sensorimotor origin, which indicates the repetition of different experiences: perceptual, spatial-motor, dynamic. Different types of interaction of objects are represented by dynamic image-schemes: movement (WAY, CYCLE), vertical movement (VERTICAL) and force (ENABLEMENT/DISABLEMENT, COMPULSION, ATTRACTION, OPPOSITION, COUNTERFORCE and REMOVAL of COUNTERFORCE) [4].

Thus, in example (1), the dynamic image-schema OPPOSITION is activated, the vector of which is activated by the lexical repetition of the pronoun Instead of, which performs an emotionally-expressive function of reproach, accusing the EU of the wrong course of action. This repetition creates conditions for enhancing the author’s opinion, which contributes to the gradual persuasion of readers.

(1) Instead of conducting European search and rescue in the Mediterranean, the EU has pulled its forces out. Instead of supporting non-governmental rescue operations, EU countries have thrown every obstacle in their way. Instead of taking responsibility themselves, EU countries have been propping up the Libyan coastguard without the resources or dedication to save lives at sea.” [1].

In another example (2), there is a dynamic image-schema DISABLEMENT, which is achieved by repeating the syntactic construction “claiming the US administration was closing the door to diplomacy”. Thanks to this image-schema, we immediately understand that the US administration refuses to conduct diplomatic relations with the Government of Iran, and makes relations impossible.

(2) Iran and other powers – also toughened his rhetoric, claiming the US administration was closing the door to diplomacy. In a tweet, Mr Zarif, who is also due to be sanctioned by the end of the week, according to the US treasury, claimed the US administration was closing the door to diplomacy [6].

The text fragment (3) shows the use of the dynamic image-schema FORCE. We define the image-schema FORCE as a dynamic image-schema that generically accumulates and represents the experience of force. This image-schema is formed as a result of the interaction between the subject and the object through force relations, that is, the executor of the action must make some efforts in order to accomplish a specific task, approach the goal. From a linguistic standpoint, the image-schema POWER is traced through the use of modal verbs (should, must, need + verb). The example shows that government (we) need to be persistent, ambitious, prudent to save the US economy because it declines.

(3) The situation is well rehearsed – we need to be ambitious, we need to be prudent, the economy is overheating, the economy is on the verge of a downturn induced by a hard Brexit [3].

Thus, repetition as a type of redundancy is a tool directing the development and functioning of language. Our research demonstrates that repetition is an important linguistic and discursive unit involved in the text coherence, and therefore in the construction of meaning. From a cognitive standpoint, the repetition of syntactic constructions facilitates the perception of an idea, captures certain values in the imagination of the recipient, focuses the attention of the reader on the important information.


  1. Doshi, “Up to 150 people feared dead in Mediterranean after two boats capsize.” The Guardian, 26 July. 2019, p. 30.
  2. Malinovsky,  “The Extralinguistic Aspects of Repetition”. Bulletin of Zhytomyr I. Franko State University, vol. 20, 2005. pp.163–167.
  3. McCoy, D. “Effective spending crucial for economy and society” The Irish Times, 26 June 2019, p. 12.
  4. Potapenko, S. I. Suchasnyi Anglomovnyi Media-Dyskurs: Lingvokognityvnyi I Motyvatsiinyi Aspekty. Nizhyn: Vydavnytstvo NDU imeni Mykoly Gogolia, 2009. 391 s.
  5. Johnson The Body in the Mind : The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination and Reason / M. Johnson. – Chicago ; L. : The Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987. – 233 p.
  6. LynchS. “Bolton denounces Iran and urges country to enter into nuclear talks” The Irish Times, 26 June 2019, p. 8.